DVD Review - Enough Said

Writer-director Nicole Holofcener is good at dialogue and crafting interesting or funny characters. That is in abundance here. What isn't in abundance is the feeling of originality. Holofcener is making a romantic comedy. As such, she conforms to the cliché trappings, the biggest trapping being one person in the relationship has a secret, which if revealed would break them up potentially, so that person sits on the secret until the inevitable third act when the predictable bomb is dropped. The couple splits up briefly, only to come back together in the dénouement. It's the standard formula for so many rom-coms that one would hope that Holofcener would avoid it, but she doesn't.

What sets the movie apart is the fact that the couple in the center aren't a pair of twenty-somethings. They aren't a pair of thirty-somethings either. They're older, which wouldn't be a problem in Hollywood these days. If Sandra Bullock or George Clooney wanted to do a rom-com, I doubt that their being over 40 would cause any one any problem.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a beautiful woman who certainly anchors this rom-com with charm and great humor. Going into it though, she might not have been assumed as such. Her recent television work distances her from the dramatic weight in the latter half. She stars as Eva, a masseuse in Los Angeles who's divorced with a teenage daughter.

James Gandolfini co-stars as Albert, a TV archivist who meets Eva at a party and they hit it off. Albert is approaching middle-age. He's fat and balding. He's a little awkward, but he's funny and charming. Albert is able to start dating Eva somewhat easily and smoothly. While Louis-Dreyfus could be a substitute for someone like Bullock in this rom-com situation, Gandolfini is not the substitute for Clooney, at least superficially.

Except, he actually is. Gandolfini is sexy in his own way, and I don't mean that as a joke. The movie somewhat embraces that, even though its running gag is the constant humiliating of Albert as that sexy, romantic lead. The secret that becomes the predictable bomb is that Eva befriends Albert's ex-wife, Marianne, played by Catherine Keener (Capote and The 40-Year-Old Virgin) who constantly talks trash about Albert. Of course, Marianne and Albert don't know that they have Eva in common.

Sadly, the running gag ceases to be funny or compelling after a few scenes of dealing with it. It becomes a slog having to wait for the predictable bomb to go off because it's ultimately unnecessary plot contrivances to get there. I wish the bomb had not been left till so late. I wish Holofcener had just exploded it in the first act and let the real beauty of this movie play, the real beauty being watching Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini interact and have the chemistry they have.

I suppose the story needs a framework, even a contrived one, but I was content to watch scenes like the one where Eva sits and has dinner with her friend, Sarah, played by Toni Collette, and talk about relationships, past ones and future ones, especially with regard to divorced couples. The issue of being friends with someone while also dating that friend's ex-spouse is one that really could have been explored with much more depth, but Holofcener merely treats it as a punchline.

It's mildly and briefly amusing and becomes something that floats away in this movie. What doesn't float away is the relationship Eva has with her daughter. That paired with Albert's relationship with his daughter and there almost is a movie here about parenthood, one I preferred more. Yes, it has familiar elements, such as letting go and accepting change, but the performances are so well done that you buy the emotional journey of the parenthood stuff, no matter how short. You buy the earnestness of Gandolfini for example that like Louis-Dreyfus' character, you can't tell if he's being serious.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 32 mins. 


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